All the hunting and cooking of wild game he did as a boy certainly helped lay the groundwork for Chef Anthony Gray's career path. As partner and executive chef of Greenville's Bacon Bros. Public House, the daily grind pivots around the careful curing and smoking of a variety of meats. Gray's creations take center stage on an inspired meat-forward menu of traditional Southern comfort foods, charcuterie and plenty of locally sourced products.
When it comes to planning the menu at Bacon Bros., the seasons are in charge. This allows Gray to put South Carolina's freshest agricultural products in the spotlight. Every ingredient gets special attention, though. From bacon jam to ketchup to dry rubs, everything is made in-house according to Gray's vision for the restaurant. His locavore aesthetic even comes down to the wood he uses in the custom-built smoker, with South Carolina peach wood figuring prominently.
Born and raised in Georgia, Gray got a taste for Southern cooking at an early age. But it was his decision to seek formal training at Johnson & Wales in Charleston that set him firmly on the trajectory to chefdom. While there, he had the good fortune of meeting South Carolina legend, Chef Frank Lee, who hired Gray to assist in the kitchen of Slightly North of Broad. Gray soaked up every bit of Lee's guidance and eventually was named sous chef of High Cotton, another iconic restaurant in the historic city. There he developed his expertise so impressively, he soon moved to the top of the class with executive chef positions at High Cotton in both Charleston and Greenville. In 2011, he took the helm at Southern Art in Atlanta and was named one of the city's "Rising Star Chefs." But South Carolina beckoned him back. Gray returned to Greenville, where he and a few business colleagues opened Bacon Bros. in 2013. Under his kitchen leadership, it continues to be one of the most popular eateries in the Upstate.